I love sleep.
Even if I don't get enough of it by my own doing, closing my eyes and letting my mind drift off into dreamland is a good feeling.
But lately, my sleep has been a little restless.
Not in the way where my mind's working endlessly and reluctant to calm down, but rather my body has a mind of its own. I come to bed, but can't sleep because my foot is itching or even a little painful. Same with my leg, and I sometimes need to wiggle it or even let out a sort of kick to tide it over. These past number of days, that's been happening with my arms.
Of course, this all frustrates Suzi and prompts her to tell me to "Stop Wiggling" next to her.
I'm afraid that neuropathy and diabetes complications are weaving their way back into my sleep routine, and causing me to fidget and not sleep. And inevitably, I find myself thinking it's just easier to go sleep in the other room or on the couch.
This has been off and off for more than a decade now. I remember the most severe and life-impacting time was in 2005, just about the time we walked down the aisle. At that point, there were shooting pains and a constant ache in my toes, feet and legs.
That was neuropathy.
And it's what ultimately led me to going online in search of "real stories," not the textbook warnings and advice from medical professionals who were just saying "do better and keep your blood sugars under control." No, I wanted to find those people who were also living with diabetes, and telling me real stories about how to deal with these foot pains in real life -- when you're sleeping next to your loved one, or how to sit at your desk at work and not get too distracted by the pain. Or when you have to stand up and walk around every few minutes as a result.
That's what I was looking for, and search engines eventually connected me with Kerri, Scott Johnson, and George; and others like Amy, Christel and Scott Strumello who were telling real stories and even keeping an eye on diabetes issues and not just pumping out (HA!) press releases and medical lingo that wasn't real.
Through those people and an expanding online universe that's now the DOC, I found support that I didn't even know I needed.
No, it wasn't about finding a new medication to take. Or what my A1C should be, and how to get it there. Or hearing about special socks that could help circulation, or putting my feet up with specialized pillows to help ease the pain.
That wasn't and isn't the point of the DOC, as most of us see it.
Instead, it was about hearing the "me too." Hearing the "Yes, it does suck, but it's going to be OK." And we're here, no matter what hour and without any office visit or co-pay needed. Just go to any blog, or on Twitter, or whatever channel works. And we won't judge you."
The DOC made me not feel alone, and through that I found something that no doctor or medical professional had been able to give me before -- hope. and a desire to do better.
It helped me deal with that neuropathy, because the online community brought a sense of support that I'd been missing because no one had really let me explore that psychosocial aspect of diabetes before. That helped motivate me to do better, to pay more attention to my own diabetes, and get back on the bandwagon of taking care of myself.
Of course, I also went on medication to help ease the symptoms. Getting back into better BG management was the best move, and it helped me say goodbye to that most painful neuropathy at the time. And it hasn't come back to that extent, even to this day. All of that was with the help of my doctors, but it wasn't because of them. It was because of the DOC, and that's what led me to doing better.
That is where I find myself these days.
I am restless, and my sleep is off. There is a pain in my feet, legs and now arms. And it's a bit different, not as painful, but different because times have changed and I'm a different person, a different diabetic, and in a different place than I was in 2005. And "the DOC" is different too -- certainly not in the theme of connecting and helping people feel not-so-alone, but in that there's so many people out there and it can feel... large and impersonal, sometimes.
But that's where finding those stories that mean something to you matters most, and it's what this DOC thrive. Because there are so many voices out there, that probably means you can find whatever you might need, and hopefully it helps you get to a place you need and want to be.
Whether it's neuoropathy or mental health or blood sugar checks, or whatever.
Plugging back into the DOC may not be answer anymore for me, but it could be a start. The rest? We'll just have to see how it plays out. I'm just glad to know I'm not in this by myself.